The Walking Dead Season 3 resumes this Sunday - and it looks like things are just heating up.
I recently spoke to executive producer Gale Anne Hurd (whose massive resume includes classic films such as The Terminator and Aliens) about the exciting return, her favorite characters, taking cues from the graphic novel and what's in store for the second half of season three.
Read on for our Q&A...
What made you want to get involved with The Walking Dead?
The comic book! I was a fan of the comic book and when I initially read it, it started running in 2004, so I read it in 2005, I thought, ok this is great but it really wouldn't work as a feature and i was focused on feature films at the time. Then when I started to get into television, an executive at my company said, "Are you familiar with The Walking Dead" and I went, "You mean Robert Kirkman's Walking Dead?" I said "Yeah, oh my god, that would be a perfect TV series."
So, it was that familiarity with the underlying intellectual property.
What's it like producing a TV show compared to a movie?
TV is much harder. That was a surprise. In the amount of time it takes to finish one two hour film, you will have made 16 hours of television. But it's also a lot more rewarding because you get to tell 16 hours of storytelling, and you get to work with actors and their characters you can explore over 16 hours, and you can tell their stories much more in depth than you can in a feature.
How do you decide what to take from the graphic novel or what to leave out?
Part of what we do is say like this season we knew we were going to the prison. But, we also have characters that have been created for the TV series like Daryl and Merle, so we need to think about how their stories integrate into a setting that comic book fans are familiar with and stories from the comics. We try and integrate both of them and at the same time make sure people who know exactly what's going to happen because they are intimately familiar with the comic book, are wrong.
It's fun to have that level of engagement but at the same time, whatever story we can come up with, we want to make sure it is just as good as what's already in Robert Kirkman's magnum opus.
A popular graphic novel character named Tyreese has joined the show. How did you choose Chad Coleman to play him?
We were all huge fans of The Wire, so we had actually been thinking for a while that we'd love to have him on the show. I think it was actually Robert Kirkman who said that he'd be fantastic as Tyreese.
Do you have a favorite character on the show?
It changes depending on the season. One of my favorite from the comic book is Michonne, and now having Danai Gurira bring her to life is fantastic. Andrew Lincoln, you just can't imagine anyone else playing Rick. And another interesting character is Carl. Chandler [Riggs] does such a fantastic job of bringing him to life, and he certainly has an interesting arc as well.
What do you think makes prison and Woodbury such interesting settings?
This season, we're doing something we haven't been able to do before which is cut back and forth between these two different groups and see how two different groups of survivors are dealing with the zombie apocalypse.
It's almost as if in the prison, all of the ugliness and grime is on the outside and Woodbury is all on the inside.
How evil will we get to see the Governor go?
I think you'll see. The fantastic thing about David Morrissey is that he brings such depth to the character. He's not a cardboard cutout of an evil mustache twirling bad guy. You see why so many people are following him. He's strong. He's got a plan. He's also incredibly twisted. He gets pretty dark.
Merle and Daryl had a mini reunion at the end of "Made to Suffer." What will their relationship be like for the future?
It's complicated. It's a very complicated relationship, and it's one that sprung from a family in which violence was an every day occurrence. After having been apart for so long, they have grown into two very different ways. I think both of them never expected to be part of a community, but they both have integrated themselves quite well. If anything, they're thriving in the zombie apocalypse in a way they couldn't have in normal times.
Do you think Michonne might follow that same path and feel a part of the group?
We haven't seen it yet. In an interesting way, she's even less trusting than Daryl and Merle, so she would rather head for the exits than stick around to see if someone can be trusted.
What's surprised you the most after doing three seasons of The Walking Dead?
What's most surprising is how committed everyone in the cast and crew remains to each other, and the characters they're bringing to life, and the show. They love their characters, they love the show, and everyone cried on the last day of production, which I can assure you is not often the case when you're beginning in May and ending in December.
Any chance of directing?
You know, I tend to like to multi-task and directing is a really singular focus. So, I think I found the right career for me. You're never gonna see me wearing a t-shirt that says, "What I want to do is direct."
Anything from the graphic novel you'd like to see take place on the show?
The great news is that we're only possibly a third of the way through, you know, a hundred and how ever many issues there are? There's so much coming up that we're excited to see. I don't know that I want to see some of the things that necessarily happen in issue #100, and I won't share that with anybody that hasn't read that issue. There's a lot of new characters that I'm looking forward to seeing in the series as well as even more complicated relationships.
What can you tease about what's in store for the second half of season three?
Well, things get even more twisted and complicated, and you really have to wonder where certain character's loyalties lie. I think some very surprising things happen that take a dark dangerous turn.
Get ready for The Walking Dead return on Sunday, February 10 at 9/8c on AMC.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.